On August 22, the BRICS Summit will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. How do you interpret the significance of this summit? What are your expectations for this summit?
It should be mentioned at the outset that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has enthusiastically scheduled in South Africa the historic 15th Summit of the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, India, Russia, and South Africa. It will be the first BRICS Summit to be organized in-person since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent global restrictions. In recent months and weeks President Ramaphosa has held a series of consultations on the organization of the Summit. It will be attended by the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa. By mutual agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not take part in the Summit, but Russia will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
President Ramaphosa is confident that the Summit will be a success and has urged the country to extend the necessary hospitality to the many delegates who will arrive from various parts of the world.
It is interesting to note that France seeks to be present with the emerging economies, which shows that they are becoming increasingly influential internationally. Since the outbreak of the Wall Street financial crisis in 2008, the role played by the G20 has become increasingly important in global governance. To some extent, its importance has surpassed the traditional G7, as the G20 is increasingly showing its inclusive abilities, as can also be seen from the map of the world economy. The status of developed countries is currently declining, and their influence is weakening, while in the South the relevance of States is increasing. As the most representative “club” of emerging countries, the BRICS group naturally attracts increasing attention and is ever more influential.
At the same time, the French behaviour – while Italy always follows the US orders and misses opportunities in the rest of the world- also conveys a message to the international community that the BRICS group is still a platform for great international cooperation. The attempt made by President Macron – who, in the additional recovery time, hopes he will be the first Western leader to participate in the BRICS Summit – shows that the clout of the countries in the South is increasing and that the emerging economies are getting increasing attention.
Over 40 countries have expressed their desire to join the BRICS cooperation mechanism. Why do more and more countries want to join BRICS? How will the expansion of BRICS influence BRICS countries and countries interested in joining?
As a platform for cooperation between emerging and developing countries, the BRICS group is committed to maintaining multilateralism, actively promoting the reform of the global economic system, and strengthening the representation and voice of these countries with stable and constructive forces.
Many countries are tired of the fact that the United States, and the West on tow, have almost economically dominated the entire world for decades, forcing and imposing transactions in dollars, with the fear that failure to comply with US directives would result in economic and financial sanctions and blackmail. The BRICS group, instead, is open to helping countries develop, as well as promoting investment and trade, and never imposes preconditions.
More importantly, the BRICS group defends multipolarization and multilateralism. By defending multilateralism, the BRICS countries are fighting against the concept of the Cold War and opening the possibility of building a fairer and more equitable international economic order from which the world can benefit.
The BRICS’ main mission is to stand up for the interests of developing countries. The BRICS group is in line with world trends that are consistent with those of most countries. This means that the BRICS countries’ expansion is a matter of time.
Western countries refer to BRICS as an economic group seeking to break Western economic hegemony globally. They also worry that expansion and de-dollarization could transform BRICS into an anti-American camp. How do you view these concerns from the West and the “anti-American” label being put on BRICS?
According to media reports on May 30, Brazilian President Lula said in a press conference with Venezuelan President Maduro that he dreamt about creating a common BRICS currency so that he could stop using the US dollar. He stressed that it was necessary to stop using the said currency because it was completely owned by the United States of America which could do what they most desired. President Lula argued that trade restrictions were unacceptable. In that regard, Jiang Shixue from Shanghai University pointed out in an interview with Satellite News Agency that there was no doubt that the BRICS de-dollarization was necessary, but the statements made by President Lula had more political meaning and fewer practical considerations. The BRICS countries will move in the direction of de-dollarization, as well as develop, explore and resolve the situation.
De-dollarization is, indeed, a complicated issue. Firstly, the concept of de-dollarization needs to be clarified. President Lula talked about the creation of a common BRICS currency, but he did not specify what that currency was, for example between the People’s Republic of China and Brazil or between Russia and India and South Africa. Trade is regulated in local currency, which falls within bilateral relations, and has nothing to do with the BRICS framework. Secondly, current economic cooperation among the BRICS countries is very limited. The possibility of de-dollarization is low. Thirdly, if local currency is used for settlement – although bilateral trade can be balanced – it is a factor that needs to be considered. For example, in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, energy trade between India and Russia was settled in local currency, which means that India paid for Russia’s energy in rupees rather than dollars, i.e. on an eminently bilateral basis.
Regarding the so-called “anti-Americanism”, some considerations should be made. As an increasing number of regional powers are interested in joining the BRICS group – which shows the growing influence of the organization as a new geopolitical force – this also indicates that the current US-led international order – particularly the economic order and the financial system – shall face increasingly severe challenges.
Since many developing countries are regional economic powers, many analysts believe that once they are included in the group, this will not only increase the size of the BRICS group, but also enable the BRICS countries to unleash more power at the level of the international community. In particular, this poses a challenge to the international economic and financial order.
Therefore, according to the usual analysts, the BRICS group will “degenerate” and turn into an anti-American and anti-Western camp.
The Italian example is enough to weigh the fear of being accused of “anti-Americanism.” Our government has an old nostalgic Fascist basis but, in view of showing loyalty to the US ally – which annihilated Italian Fascism precisely 78 years ago – whatever comes from “Communist China” should be rejected – such as the Silk Road – or should be feared – such as the BRICS group. The same holds true – for different reasons and/or fear – for the other Western countries, but not for France, as seen above.
In comparison to Western groups like the G7, how do you view the governance characteristics and prospects of BRICS?
I will answer this question briefly. Iran and Argentina have recently applied to join the BRICS, thus attracting worldwide attention. The G7 group consists of seven developed countries, namely Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, which are rich countries. The BRICS group, instead, consists of emerging developing countries. The two “clubs” are therefore fundamentally different. Judging from the current world situation, the BRICS and the G7 have become a basis and a forum for an exchange of views between the alliance of developed countries and that among developing countries. The future influence of the BRICS group is expected to outweigh that of the G7 group. In addition to other issues examined in a previous answer.
Emerging economies, especially BRICS countries, have experienced vigorous economic growth and have become important drivers of global economic development. Faced with these changes, how do you think Europe should respond?
According to data from last May, the BRICS group accounts for about 40 percent of the planet’s total land area and are home to more than 40 percent of the world’s population.
Size of the BRICS countries
|1. People’s Republic of China||1. Russia|
|2. India||4. People’s Republic of China|
|7. Brazil||5. Brazil|
|9. Russia||7. India|
|24. South Africa||24. South Africa|
The BRICS countries aim to become a global economic force that can compete with the G7. This is evidenced by data released by the BRICS group, which shows for the first time its superiority to the G7: the BRICS countries’ contribution rate to the global economy has reached 31.5 percent, while that of the G7 stands at 30.7 percent.
Furthermore, the BRICS countries are committed to achieving a few economic, political and security goals by strengthening global stability, peace and economic cooperation among the five countries. This will help break Western hegemony by 2050, thus creating a multipolar global economic system.
Another important goal of the group is that the five emerging powers hope they will strengthen their position in the world through proactive cooperation among themselves, particularly by:
1. eradicating poverty, solving unemployment and promoting economic and social integration by committing to achieving global economic growth;
2. working together to ensure higher quality growth by encouraging innovative economic development based on advanced technology and skill development;
3. seeking to increase participation and cooperation with non-BRICS countries;
4. promoting security and peace for economic growth and political stability;
5. committing to reforming international financial institutions so that emerging and developing economies have a greater say in making financial institutions more representative;
6. working with the international community to maintain the stability of the multilateral trading system and improve the international trade and investment environment;
7. making efforts to achieve the early Millennium Development Goals related to sustainable development, also through multilateral environmental agreements;
8. coordinating and cooperating with the countries of the group in the field of rational energy use to combat climate change;
9. providing humanitarian assistance and reducing the risk of natural disasters, including addressing issues such as global food security.
Moreover, the BRICS countries carry out scientific and educational cooperation and participate in basic research and advanced technology development. The members of the group expect that achieving these goals will provide new momentum to global economic cooperation.
As for Europe, there is little to say. Aside from the French desires and ambitions to shake off the US sackcloth, Italy’s and other countries’ examples speak for themselves: catch phrases, “Kantian” rhetoric, and development opportunities thrown away, due to terror, ignorance and political inability.
At the same time, last March the South African Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandol, confirmed that many countries in the world were increasingly interested in joining BRICS and pointed out that Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Nigeria, and 34 other countries had also expressed interest in joining the group. Furthermore, at the end of 2021, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, and Uruguay formally joined the BRICS New Development Bank, founded in Fortaleza, Brazil, on July 15, 2014, followed by Egypt at the end of the said month.